NFDC say Fawley water plant plan would be bad for area
PLANS to build a £600m desalination plant near Fawley have faced opposition from New Forest District Council
As reported in the A&T, the facility at Ashlett Creek, which would process 75 million litres of seawater into drinking water every day, would also see a 25km pipeline built to Testwood in Totton.
A report signed off by the council’s new leader, Cllr Edward Heron, stated: “Desalination at Fawley is a high carbon footprint, high environmental impact and high risk water supply option that NFDC should not support.”
It added: “The proposed desalination plant and its pipeline connections and operations would have very significant environmental implications for internationally designated habitats in the Solent and on the New Forest National Park landscape.”
Other concerns raised by Cllr Heron included the potential for significant community disruption during pipeline construction and the potential adverse impact on the proposed Fawley Waterside development of about 1,500 homes.
Pipeline construction could also impact land allocated in NFDC's Local Plan for development in north Totton, although routing suggests it would be laid under existing roads.
Southern Water said the scheme would safeguard against water shortages caused by drought, with chief executive Ian McAulay adding it was part of a company-wide transformation over the next decade.
The plans sparked concern from residents, who claimed they had not been properly consulted on the scheme. In response, a petition was set up which currently has over 1,300 signatures.
Robin Pearce, who lives close to the proposed site, told the A&T he felt the comments were “a positive step”. He added: “Southern Water has the alternative of bulk transfer from Havant Thicket reservoir, £176m capital cost as opposed to £600m and Havant Thicket can be achieved in the same timescale.
“Southern Water purport to be a green company, yet they continue to push for the desalination plant over and above the low carbon, low impact Havant Thicket reservoir.”
Southern Water's head of delivery, Mark Wintringham, said: "Our consultation sets out how we plan to keep Hampshire’s rivers and taps flowing as the population grows and the climate continues to change. This is early non-statutory engagement – there will be more opportunities to engage with the plans before we seek planning consent.
“Reductions to our abstraction licences in Hampshire, to protect the Test and Itchen rivers mean we now have a shortfall of about 190-million litres of water a day during a drought.
"This puts the population at risk of water shortages when the weather is dry so new sources of water are needed to ensure we strike the right balance between protecting the environment and maintaining supplies."
He added: "The energy use and carbon cost of desalination should be considered in the context of the environmental protections it would give to the Test and Itchen rivers – from which less water would need to be taken during a drought.
"Southern Water is committed to maintaining and enhancing the natural environment and to being carbon neutral by 2030. We will avoid carbon where possible and offset it where energy-intensive processes are necessary.”
The public consultation period ends today (Friday). Southern Water has not yet decided whether to seek consent via conventional applications or if it will seek a development consent order (DCO), which would be considered by an appointed examining authority and eventually determined by the government.